Last night I had the pleasure of attending my first ‘Group Reading.’ This is where a group selects a text in advance of the meeting, all read it it, then discuss their observations/reflections. This was a group interested in educational theory and the paper had been chosen, as is often the case, by someone who was finding it a challenge to interpret the propositions. The particular paper in question was The Long and the Short of It: Comments on Multiple Timescale Studies of Human Activity in which the author, Jay Lemke, is introducing and drawing from four other articles in the same journal and referencing the Ecosocial Model he is developing.

I was reassured to find I wasn’t the only one of the eight or so folks there who felt they hadn’t fully grasped what the author was offering. The group members were all researchers, but of widely varying experiences; some at the top of their profession and other just starting out on their journeys. They had chosen to come along, after 5.00 pm, to build a better understanding through communal discussion. This was an exercise in developing one’s knowledge and understanding by sharing with and learning from others. I was coming in as a newbie, seeking wisdom from those more experienced and capable than I, but prepared to offer the meagre, naive observations and interpretations I’d developed. Fortunately the atmosphere was incredibly friendly, convivial and most importantly supportive.

Although I can’t speak for other group members, I found this experience a particularly powerful one. I know  areas that I need to develop are those of linguistic rhetoric and critical interpretation. This group provided me with the opportunity to begin that process, and perhaps more importantly, to see, hear and experience how others approach those tasks. I gained from hearing incisive insights and tentative observations, whether from the more seasoned members or those earlier on the path. I’m certainly looking forward to the next one.

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